Living in the Land of Five Seasons

Did you know that Japan actually has five seasons? I am not kidding here. If you ask any Japanese person, they would definitely agree with you. In addition to the regular four seasons, experienced in every temperate climate around the world, Japan also has a rainy season. Now, before I moved to Japan, I was under the impression that rainy season was reserved for places that also had a dry season. You know, places like the desert or Savannah. But, even without any deserts or savannahs, Japan has claimed their own rainy season. And, conveniently enough, their rainy season fits very nicely into a one-month time frame.

June is the rainy season. If it rains anytime before or after June, inevitably people will complain about the amount of rain because its not happening in June, the appropriate month for rain. I used to think that this way of thinking was kind of stupid. I mean seriously, who actually believes that you can fit the patterns of weather into so neat a package? Japanese people believe it with the utmost confidence. In May, things like umbrellas, rain coats, and galoshes become as widely advertised as sandals and UV clothing. And people pay for these goods. I have seen people pay $30 for an umbrella. As an outsider observing the scene, it all seems a bit illogical. But what do I know? Maybe Japan has succeeded where the rest of the world has failed. Maybe they have some sort of secret deal with the forces that control weather in order to not only get this bonus season, but to control its time frame as well. But as a repercussion to taking matters of weather into their own hands, Japan has to bear copious amounts of humidity, only to be rivaled by countries bordering the Equator.

Setting aside all the possible reasons as to why this tidy time frame exists, I return to the original question: who would actually that patterns of weather can be so neatly boxed into a specific time frame? I hate to admit it, but this past spring, I have become one of those very people. It has rained almost non-stop for the past few days and I caught myself complaining about the rain by asking Why is it raining? Its not June yet. I have even been debating buying a rain coat before June starts.

Its embarrassing and seeing it in writing makes me feel a bit stupid, but it is what it is. I guess that when you live long enough in a culture not your own, inevitably you will start adopting some of their ways of thinking as your own. But not to worry, in the areas that really matter, like warding off demons, I will never waver. Throwing beans and cucumbers at demons is too much of a waste of food to ever buy into as believable.

5 thoughts on “Living in the Land of Five Seasons

  1. filmbeats says:

    I remember in beijing even though it almost never rained rest of the year. It rained a hell of a lot for a 4-5 week period beginning around mid June until near the end of July or a bit early. It was pretty ridiculous. It was super heavy rain and not just a mere drizzle here and there.

    • losemyway says:

      So it seems that Japan can no longer exclusively claim the rainy season. Japanese at large would probably be really upset to hear the news.

  2. Jeff says:

    All ancient people knew that there are 5 seasons, not four. In our modern culture we’ve become alienated from nature and our bodies so that we can no longer sense the fifth season, which is known as Late Summer. This brief fifth season that follows summer and precedes autumn is spoken of in Babylonian and Vedic records. It’s central to Classical Chinese philosophy and medicine. In Southern Europe, there’s a lingering tradition of whole towns shutting up shop during August. In North America there’s a faint remembrance of it in the colloquial reference to “Indian Summer”. Late Summer is associate with humidity and rain, as well as degeneration, chaos, and indecision. The rotting that always follows Summer’s ripening.

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